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Sinking Your Teeth Into Correlation Does Not Imply Causation

, , , | Right | October 21, 2022

I’m in the lobby of the dentist’s office waiting for my turn. I hear a mother screaming as she storms out of the office, shooing her son out the door.

Mother: “We won’t be coming back! My sons didn’t have cavities until they started coming here!”

I facepalmed.

Can’t Get N-E Rest With These Mixups

, , , , , , , , , | Working | October 21, 2022

Many years ago, when I first got Internet service, I suddenly stopped getting emails. I called the ISP (a local outfit), and after some digging around, they found that someone with a first name similar to mine (e.g., Joan versus Joanne) and the same last name had called them. She thought her customers were using the wrong email and asked that all emails going to jmurphy@(ISP) be redirected to her. That, of course, was my email. I had not gotten anything that should have gone to her, so I don’t know why she decided she needed to redirect my email, but it was all sorted out, and I hope the person who mindlessly went along with her request got educated on being a bit more careful.

Back then, Joanne lived in a town about thirty miles from me. Now, it seems she’s moved quite a bit closer. I got a message confirming an appointment with my dentist that I never made. The office finally realized that they had a Joan and Joanne with the same last name and said they were going to straighten it out, but I got a text asking me to update my information for her appointment a couple of days ago.

Yesterday, I got a phone call from my pharmacy saying my prescription was ready. I was not expecting any prescriptions. I know they never answer their phone, so I trekked down there first thing this morning to find out what was going on. The pharmacist told me which doctor had prescribed it as if that would jog my memory. I had never heard of that doctor. Several minutes at the computer later, she finally realized that the prescription for Joanne had been put in the system for Joan, complete with my phone number and date of birth.

I can’t wait to see what mess-up happens next.

Quit Needling Me And Fix My Filling!

, , , | Healthy | October 9, 2022

I’m at the dentist’s office getting a loose filling fixed, and helping me is a lady I’ve only seen once before. She’s an elderly lady who talks in a very soft and gentle voice, kind of like how you would talk to a child. I’ve been frequenting this dental office all thirty-one years of my life, and it’s in their files I have autism (ergo, high sensitivity) and anxiety issues, so I can’t help but wonder if she just talks that way or does it on purpose for me.

Today is a hot summer day, and I’m wearing shorts and a tank top. I have several tattoos on my arms. 

The moment I walk in, she says:

Dentist: “Well, aren’t you dressed like you’re on vacation?! It can’t be that hot out, can it?”

Me: “The air conditioning in here is certainly deceiving. Outside in the sun is a different ball game.”

I lay down in the chair and get anxious about the procedure. She asks if I want to be numbed.

Me: “Yes, please. My gums are really sensitive. I have to admit, the needle for the numbing makes me very anxious, but it’s shorter suffering, so I’ll take it.”

Dentist: “Well, it’s a simple procedure, and I doubt if you need one after all. You’re a big girl. You can do without, can’t you?”

Me: “No. Please don’t underestimate how sensitive I am in my mouth. I’d like to be sedated.”

The way she talks to me makes me uncomfortable, but she agrees to numb me. She then changes her tone like she is trying to console a child.

Dentist: “Okay, we’re going to use the teeny-tiny needle for this, then. You won’t even feel it, I promise! You won’t even feel that nasty numb sensation.”

My discomfort rises to the point that I’m having a minor anxiety attack. My legs start shaking, I start to cry, and I’m fighting to keep my breathing under control. I apologize and ask her to give me a second to catch my breath.

Dentist: “Come on, open up! I don’t have all day!”

I oblige, but my hands are clenching the chair, and I’m still at the mercy of my anxiety. She numbs in different spots. She mentions putting the needle near my roots, and I yelp as I can really feel the needle there. The assistant who is also there is really nice and tells me to direct my breathing to my lower abdomen, while the dentist makes a quite misplaced comment.

Dentist: “You can be who you want to be here. It’s okay.” 


When she’s done, I ask her politely:

Me: “Could you maybe please not explicitly mention what you’re doing? The less I know, the better, actually.”

Dentist: *Suddenly very blunt* “You’re so weird.”

Me: *Pauses* “Excuse me?”

Dentist: *To her assistant* “Don’t you think she’s weird? I don’t get it at all!”

Me: “Care to explain?”

Dentist: “Oh, excuse me. I wasn’t aware I was saying something strange! You have tattoos all over! How can you be afraid of needles?” 

Me: *Pauses again* “That’s not comparable at all.”

I was still upset and anxious and just wanted her to get it over with. Luckily, the numbing was starting to work, the assistant continued to be lovely, and the rest of the procedure was pretty painless, despite the fact that she needed to redo the new filling twice.

The Stubborn Tooth

, , , , , | Healthy | August 20, 2022



A few years ago, I suffered a problem with one of my upper wisdom teeth that led to it, to put it lightly, beginning to rot out of my mouth. After dealing with pain for some time, I managed to find a dental clinic that took my insurance and went in to get the problem tooth extracted.

The visit turned out to be memorable. A prior visit to another clinic had a dentist inform me that I didn’t have wisdom teeth. I knew this was incorrect because the teeth had come in during my mid-teenage years. Sure enough, this clinic confirmed that the affected tooth was, in fact, a wisdom tooth. After an X-ray, they also confirmed that my other upper wisdom tooth had a much less severe case of the same problem and would eventually come out. That could wait, they told me, but the tooth I was there for could not.

I had learned early in my teenage years that injected locals didn’t seem to affect my jaw, and I warned the dentist about this. With that in mind, they made several initial injections and asked me if it was numb. I couldn’t feel any numbness, but I also didn’t feel any pain; I assumed this meant that it worked but wasn’t as effective as it should be, so I told them to proceed. 

As soon as they began prying, I felt a sharp, almost metallic-tasting pain in the tooth. Determined to just let them get the problem bugger out, I tried to power through it. The dentist and her assistant, however, must have seen my grimace, so they stopped.

Dentist: “Does it hurt?”

Me: “It does, but I don’t think you can do anything about that. Let’s keep trying.”

Dentist: “No, sorry, I have to try. I’m going to try a different local. Maybe you developed a tolerance for this one.”

Me: “Okay, sure.”

The dentist performed another injection with a different local and the wait began again. Once more, I didn’t feel any numbness, but the pain introduced by the previous attempt had subsided again, so I again — incorrectly — assumed that it must have done something.

Dentist: “Are you numb?”

Me: “Not really, but the pain’s gone, so I think it did something, at least.”

She started to pry again, only for the familiar pain to return. Realizing this was going nowhere, I motioned for her to stop.

Dentist: “Still?”

Me: “Yeah, still hurts. I guess… try again?”

Dentist: “One more shot couldn’t hurt. If that doesn’t work, we do have other options.”

Another injection, more waiting, and this time I felt a very, very slight numbness. Again they pried at the tooth, only for the pain to return. I motioned.

Dentist: “I have an idea. My guess is that, for whatever reason, the local isn’t numbing the tooth itself. Because of the damage to the tooth, I’m probably pressing right on the nerve when I do this, so I don’t think injections are the answer. I have a topical gel I can apply; while it won’t numb the mouth, it will prevent the tooth from hurting. If you’re willing to try it, I’ll go ahead.”

Me: “No problem! Do what you think you need to.”

The dentist applied the gel and waited what I assume was the required amount of time. Attempts to pry the tooth out of the mouth resumed, and thankfully, there was no pain this time. However, a new problem became apparent: despite how terrible the condition of said tooth was, it wasn’t budging. The method they were using simply wasn’t going to work.

Dentist: “Okay. I have a tool I will use that will basically crush the tooth — not all the way, just enough to free that stubborn root from the jaw. It won’t hurt, but you will feel a loud crack. Don’t worry about that.”

Me: “No problem.”

Sure enough, she applied a sort of vice-like tool to compress and twist the tooth. There was a crack, and she began pulling. And yet the tooth insisted on staying put. Without saying a word, the dentist motioned to her assistant to take hold of me, and, using her foot to gain a bit of extra torque, she yanked hard for several seconds. The tooth came free and became airborne, flying over the cupboard-like object behind me and continuing for about six more feet before loudly clattering against the floor.

The dentist smiled.

Dentist: “Well, it’s out!”

A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 19

, , , , , , , | Working | July 26, 2022

I have just arrived at the dentist’s office a bit before my appointment. After a few moments, the receptionist calls me over.

Receptionist: “We need to take care of your balance before your appointment.”

Me: “What balance?”

Receptionist: “From your last visit; you had a remaining balance.”

My last visit was six months ago, but I never received a bill.

Me: “That should have been covered. What’s the balance?”

Receptionist: “I need to look it up. Give me a moment.”

She starts going through the software, talking to the woman next to her. They go back and forth complaining about the new accounting software and complaining that they can’t find my balance. By now, it’s five minutes after my appointment was supposed to start, and the hygienist has already waved at me from behind the desk.

Me: “Can I do my appointment now while you two are working on this?”

Receptionist: “No, you have to settle the bill for your last cleaning before we do another one.”

Me: “Well… okay, but why are you waiting until right now to do this? I never got a bill, and the balance was never mentioned when I made this appointment or when you called me to confirm it.”

Receptionist: “We use a third party to send out the bills, so we have no control over that. And the system doesn’t tell us if you have a balance or not when we’re making appointments. Sorry about this. Just sit down and we’ll pull up the information.”

I sit down and wait. And wait. And wait. I can’t hear everything they say, but they seem to still be struggling to pull up my balance from their software. By now, my appointment slot is almost passed, and I have to get back to work.

Receptionist: “Sorry about this. Can you stay a bit longer? We had an opening after yours that you can take.”

Me: “No, I can’t. I have to get back to work.”

Receptionist: “Ah… okay. We’ll call you this afternoon with the balance, and you can make an appointment then. Sound good?”

Me: “Sure.”

I’m not happy with the situation, but I figure I’ll wait and see what the balance is and why I have it. I don’t get a call that afternoon, but I do get a call the next week… telling me I have a $50 fee for missing my appointment. I call them back up.

Me: “So, I have a fee for missing my last appointment on [date]?”

Receptionist: “Oh, yes, thank you for returning our call. What’s the card number?”

Me: “Um, no, I’m not paying this. I was at the appointment. You guys said I had a balance, which you couldn’t find, so I wasted my whole appointment in the waiting room waiting for you to figure out what I owed.”

Receptionist: “Yes, I remember. You left after that instead of taking the next appointment slot you were offered, which is why you’re getting that fee.”

Me: “I had to get back to work. I didn’t have time to stay for another hour.”

Receptionist: “I understand that. But when we book an appointment, we need to have some billable activity in that appointment, or we’re losing money, which is why we charge fees for missed appointments.”

Me: “But it’s not my fault you guys wouldn’t let me keep the appointment.”

Receptionist: “I understand that, but you were offered the next appointment and still chose to leave.”

Me: “Look. I’m not paying a fee for sitting around in the waiting room for an hour.”

Receptionist: *Sighing* “Let me talk to the office supervisor. We’ll call you back.”

They didn’t call me back. I figured the matter was resolved, so I never called back, but instead, I switched dentists so I could get my cleaning. Apparently, I should have followed up, because today I got a notice that a $50 bill had been sent to collections from my dentist, despite (again) no bills being sent to me. Still no word on that original balance, though.

A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 18
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 17
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 16
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 15
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 14